Cape Town manager responds to protest

Acting City of Cape Town manager Mike Marsden

The expanded public works programme (EPWP) is not meant to be a permanent employment solution, the City of Cape Town said on Friday.

“The primary objective of the programme is to provide temporary relief over any period of time,” acting city manager Mike Marsden said.

“EPWP is not a permanent solution to our unemployment problems, but it is critical to the fight against poverty and unemployment.”

About 300 SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) and Housing Alliance members marched to the Cape Town civic centre on Thursday afternoon to demand equal rights for temporary workers.

They sang and danced outside the civic centre on Hertzog Boulevard, as a line of policemen dressed in protest gear kept watch.

Samwu Cape Metro regional secretary Mario Jacobs accused the city of misleading workers into believing that 11 000 EPWP jobs opportunities would translate into permanent positions.

“All you have done is to recycle job opportunities from one poor, unemployed person to another with no prospect of that leading to quality, permanent employment,” he said.

The union said it was unacceptable that a permanent council worker was paid about R240 a day, whereas an EPWP worker got R60.

Marsden said the conditions of the contracts were explained to workers at the beginning of the project.

“At no stage of an EPWP project is the expectation created that these work opportunities will become permanent.

“We cannot limit these opportunities to the same group of people. Workers are fairly recruited through a jobseekers’ database on a random basis.”

The city said it had created over 34 000 temporary jobs in the past financial year. It was paying a minimum of R80 a day for these jobs, more than the R63.18 a day recommended by government.

The union has given the city a week to negotiate the terms of employment for these contracts.

It has asked for greater job security, health and safety protection, longer periods of employment, and access to training, among other things.

Housing Assembly chairman Mhlobo Gunguluzi demanded quality public housing without prepaid water and electricity systems.

He wanted the city to scrap arrears and evictions. – Sapa


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